Getting the Most Out of Trade Shows


By Jamie Izaks, President of All Points Public Relations

Don’t let summer’s trade show slow down lull you into losing touch with what lies ahead…and just how important it is to make the most of your trade show presence. In fact, now is the time to be getting into tip top shape so you can go the distance and cross the finish line, proudly looking back at your trade show performance.

Conference season is around the corner, so here are a few tips to help franchisors, franchisees and suppliers gear up to maximize their attendance to its fullest potential.

  1. Franchisors Must Own Their Space

Exhibiting your franchise brand at a trade show is a great way to get in front of prospective franchisees, but as many can attest, it doesn’t come cheap. Investing in backdrops, video screens and designed booths can create a professional and inviting space, attracting the highest caliber franchisees to maximize the value proposition of your brand.

Outside the chaotic trade show floor, an evening event presents a unique opportunity to invite prospective clients and franchisees to an intimate dinner or happy hour. Likewise, industry expos, conferences and conventions are opportune moments for established franchisees and first-time franchise investors to get to know new and exciting brands and their executive teams even better in a more social dinner event. These more personalized conversations can make a substantial impact on building relationships that can lead to more formal business matters.  

Don’t forget to use the conference attendee list to your advantage. Just remember, if you’re researching an attendee before the conference, chances are they’re doing the same to you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Spend a bit of time working on the “About” section and have a high-quality, recent photo. The same goes for your Company page on LinkedIn.

  1. Refresh Your Elevator Speech

On the other hand, franchise industry trade shows offer all attendees the chance to schedule meetings, showcase the latest in their businesses, answer questions and introduce new innovations.

Over the last several years, investments in innovation have been the talk of conventions and conferences, so it’s imperative that all in attendance have a handle on conversations surrounding the latest and greatest in how tech is achieving greater efficiencies and profitability. Of course, today’s franchising world also requires a strong level of understanding for supply chain, real estate, finance and marketing. Your elevator pitch doesn’t have to hone in on all of them, but you must show your value to the person or people on the other side of the conversation.

To maximize your first impression, sharpen your elevator pitch ahead of time and give your old go-to commentary a refresh. Memorable pitches or discussion points are bite-sized verbal interactions that infuse a little bit of personality. Emphasize what makes you, or your business, unique, ensuring that you can hold the attention of the person on the other side of the conversation.

  1. Seek Out Speaking Opportunities

Conferences, conventions and trade shows include everything from keynote addresses and educational seminars to panels and breakout sessions. They’re all part of the allure of attending because they provide unique pathways to fresh learnings…professionally and personally. This leaves ample opportunities to take an active role in the events.

First and foremost, you have to consider where you could be a strong fit within the planned agenda and the format of the gathering. Second, it’s critical to be nine months or more ahead to start investigating your participation options. That can begin by reaching out to event organizers. Keep in mind that sponsorships often provide these types of opportunities as well, so budgeting comes into play with this as well. Lastly, keep deadlines in mind because calls for speakers, panelists and more are timed out usually more than three months ahead of the coming event. Bigger stage opportunities are rare to secure, so if you or someone in your organization might have that kind of presence and prominence, be well ahead of it with event organizers and clearly convey the audience benefit.  

Attending an industry trade show can be a rewarding experience on many levels. You can ensure the strongest payoff possible by developing a plan for a compelling presence.

Jamie Izaks is president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused integrated PR agency based in the Chicagoland area,